Dumpster Dresser Re-Do: A Two Day Upcycling Project

A couple weeks ago I found this wooden dresser sitting by the dumpster. It’s drawers were missing but I had to have it. Just two short days later and it’s now my favorite piece of furniture in the house! It was such a quick, simple project and I did it in my apartment living room.

Before and After!

Here’s a step-by-step simple guide to upcycling a drawer-less dresser anyone can do: You Will Need:

  • paintbrush
  • chalk paint (one 8 oz can was all I needed, and I only used half)
  • creme wax (usually found next to the chalk paint)
  • glazing medium
  • dark gray acrylic craft paint
  • sponges
  • tarp

After you give the piece a good cleaning, remove the drawer guides. All you should need is a screwdriver. I had to find a short-handled one to get to the screws in the back. This was the hardest part since they were good and tight, but I finally did it with minimal swearing.

Once the guides are removed, sand down any rough spots with some sandpaper and vacuum up the dust.

Drawer guides are removed from the bottom shelves

Now comes the fun part: painting! I use Americana Decor chalk paint found at Michael’s craft stores for $8.99 (use their app and wait for a 40% off coupon for an even better deal). What I love about chalk paint is that it’s so quick, requires almost no prep, and can often be done in just one coat. Whenever you’re a twin mom super fast painting is essential! There are plenty of other brands of chalk paint out there, but my mom and I have both always used Americana Decor for their color selection and value. (I am not receiving any sort of compensation from the brand; I am giving my honest opinion).

be sure to have a separate paint brush for the paint and the wax

I laid down a plastic tarp in my living room and got to work. Paint with the grain of the wood for the best finish. Chalk paint is thick so you don’t have to worry about running nearly as much. I paint in thinner layers because I like the wood to show through a little bit to give that aged/distressed look.

please excuse my messy living room littered with baby gear! TwinDad was taking charge of the babies the evening I painted

I used Americana Decor’s color “Vintage” for this project. I wanted the dresser to be versatile throughout my home and the Vintage color best matched a common denominator in all my rooms’ color palettes. While I love the color, I wanted something a little darker. Using a glazing medium and a dark gray acrylic craft paint, I mixed up a gray glaze that I sponged over the whole dresser. I had two sponges, one to wipe on the glaze and the other to wipe off the excess.


You can make a glaze using any color acrylic paint you want; just follow the directions on the glazing medium bottle. Have fun experimenting!

When wiping on the glaze, just like painting, be sure to go with the grain of the wood for the best look. Add as many coats as you like to achieve the desired color.


Once the glaze dried in a couple hours (after the twins were changed, fed, played with, and napping again) I brushed on my creme wax to set the paint and keep it from chipping over the years.

remember to tape if there are any areas you don’t want to get painted! The wood of the shelves is a beautiful raw cherry that I wanted to show

I measured the spaces and got baskets to replace the drawers. I’ve been needing some good quilt/blanket storage and the thin side shelves were perfect!

again, please excuse the mess of wires in the corner…I was too excited to get an “after” picture that I didn’t tuck them away first

And just like that, in two short days, my dumpster dresser has new life! I hope this inspires you to do something fun with an old piece of furniture that needs new life.


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